This content is not available in your region

Johnson apologises to Israeli minister in wheelchair over GOP26 access 'confusion'

Access to the comments Comments
By Reuters
Johnson apologises to Israeli minister in wheelchair over GOP26 access 'confusion'
Johnson apologises to Israeli minister in wheelchair over GOP26 access 'confusion'   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

JERUSALEM – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised to Israel’s energy minister after she complained that lack of wheelchair access had stopped her from attending the United Nations COP26 summit in Glasgow on Monday.

A belatedly-arranged wheelchair accessible taxi transported Karine Elharrar, who has muscular dystrophy, to the venue on Tuesday. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, one of the world leaders attending the summit, escorted her inside.

Elharrar said on Monday she was sad that she could not reach nL1N2RS1RT the conference grounds because the only options to get there from the gathering area were to walk or board a shuttle that was not suited to her wheelchair.

She accompanied Bennett to a meeting at the conference site with Johnson on Tuesday which was recorded in a video disseminated by the Israeli prime minister’s office.

“I gather there was some confusion with the arrangements yesterday. I’m very, very sorry about that,” Johnson told her.

Earlier, British Environment Secretary George Eustice suggested in a BBC interview that Israel may not have made the hosts aware of Elharrar’s particular needs in advance.

But the spokesman for Israel’s embassy in Britain said the mission had “communicated all of the necessary details to everyone concerned, as required, over the past several weeks”.

The conference organisers tweeted on Tuesday: “This was a genuine mistake and we have apologised for that. We are pleased to see her (Elharrar) in attendance at COP26 today.”